The steering is natural-feeling, accurate and informative
The ST looks over-bodied from the side
There's a welcome degree of throttle-interactivity in the handling balance
Quality is impressive inside but it can't match its rivals for practicality
First DriveDo revisions to the Seat Ibiza FR add any more spice to this warm hatch? We try the 1.4 TSI version on UK roads to find out
First DriveUpdated Ibiza gets a much-needed interior refresh, chassis tweaks and new options, and proves worthy of consideration
What is it?
Seat sees the Ibiza ST as a good-value alternative to Audi's A3 Sportback. But really the ST is simply a five-door Ibiza with an extra 180mm on the tail and 138 litres more boot space, making an impressive 430 litres.
A Peugeot 207 SW or a Skoda Fabia estate are more the ST's quarry, then, even if Seat does tout the ST as the most stylish small estate car in the universe.
What’s it like?
With the longer rear overhang to add to the already long front one, the ST looks over-bodied from the side. But more important is its usefulness, which is not all it could be.
There's a useful extra rear shelf under the main one, both rigid, and the rear seat cushions fold forward to make space for the backrests to fold down. Despite this, there's still a step from boot floor to folded backrest. More annoying is that a tall driver has to move the driving seat forward before attempting the rear-seat fold, otherwise there's no room.
The ST is the first Ibiza to get the three-cylinder, 74bhp, 1.2-litre turbodiesel engine and, as tested here, the 1.2-litre petrol TSI with 104bhp.
This TSI produces significantly less CO2 than the non-turbo, 84bhp 1.4, thanks partly to its stop-start and energy recovery systems. It also gives the ST a smooth, lively turn of speed, with minimal turbo lag and a crisp response, pleasures enhanced by a slick gearchange.
Unusually in a small car, the ST uses electro-hydraulic power steering which is natural-feeling, accurate and informative. There's a welcome degree of throttle interactivity in the handling balance, combined with a surprisingly supple ride. Even the Sport version is quite pliant.
Should I buy one?
The Ibiza is a worthy rival to the 207 SW and Fabia estate, so it should certainly be on your shopping list if you’re after a more spacious supermini.
It may not match its two rivals on practicality but, as a driving machine, this is still an excellent small estate car.